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Dwight Howard Scores 31, But Hawks Lead Magic 55-48 At Half

Dwight Howard is a one-man wrecking crew against the Atlanta Hawks. The only problem for the Orlando Magic is that he's practically on an island.

Howard had 31 points on 11-for-16 shooting from the field, but the rest of the Magic have just six field goals as the Hawks soared to a 55-48 lead at the break in Game One of the two club's first round playoff matchup in Orlando.

Joe Johnson netted 13 points and Al Horford had 12 for Atlanta, which shot 55-percent (22-for-40) from the field in the first half.

The Hawks haven't been able to do much of anything to contain Howard, who set a Magic playoff record with his 31-point first-half performance. Howard has posted up against Josh Powell and Jason Collins and gone to the basket strong, even finishing by connecting on free throws, where the generally sub-par free throw shooter has nailed 9-of-11 from the charity stripe.

The former Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy star is also getting things done on the glass, posting eight rebounds. However, there hasn't been much Magic from the rest of Orlando's basketball team, which simply is not nailing shots.

Atlanta, on the other hand, is nailing their jumpers.

Kirk Hinrich has 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field. Jamal Crawford has shown up and also netted 11. And the Hawks aren't getting totally decimated on the boards, where both teams ended the first half with 17 rebounds.

Nevertheless, the Hawks can ill afford to get away from the game plan. If they want to win this one, they are going to have to remain committed to playing defense. They also can't fall in love with the jumper, as in a game of adjustments, you're not always going to nail them. Attacking Howard in the post in the second half will go a long way toward victory.

For those who are wondering, Howard needs 23 points in the second half to tie former Boston Celtics great John Havlicek's record of 54 points in a single playoff game against Atlanta. Havlicek set the mark on April 1, 1973 in a 134-109 win over Atlanta in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Of course, the NBA record for points in a playoff game is held by some guy named Michael Jordan. The former Chicago Bulls great posted 63 at Boston in a double-overtime thriller on April 20, 1986.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.